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Jon Southall
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8 hours ago, DonAthos said:

this begs the question of where that authority itself comes from.

 

48 minutes ago, Jon Southall said:

Alex needs to set out what he reasons the basis of government jurisdiction and sovereignty to be.

I thought I have already explained this. But maybe I don't understand the question. I suggest both of you to share with me your own thoughts on this subject. In this way I will understand what aspect(s) you ask me to address.

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9 hours ago, AlexL said:

I thought I have already explained this. But maybe I don't understand the question. I suggest both of you to share with me your own thoughts on this subject. In this way I will understand what aspect(s) you ask me to address.

The reason why I've been questioning you is because you've had the appearance of one who is certain of his beliefs on this subject. In contrast, I don't yet know precisely what I believe with regards to "sovereignty" or "jurisdiction," such that I can answer the OP with confidence. While this subject interests me, and while I wish to better understand it, I don't yet have an argument that I can make (not according to my own standards, at least, though I do have a "lean," or a "bias"). So I thought that I (and secondarily the thread) stood to benefit by probing your position.

With that said, I can share some of my thoughts on the subject... so long as it is understood that I don't intend on driving to a point (and expect that I will ramble... even worse than usual), and I recognize that there may yet be some contradictions among my thoughts, as they are not yet fully integrated.

I have asked you as to the source of authority (of the police officer; of the Constitution writer; of government), though I still do not yet know your mind on the subject. Personally, the answer I like best thus far was given by Ayn Rand:

Quote

The source of the government’s authority is “the consent of the governed.”

I like this answer because it seems consonant with my ethical philosophy, with my vision of man, and with what I understand about Objectivism generally. I look at "government" as a byproduct; it is something that men do to secure their rights, as Jefferson had it, but it does not create those rights. The rights come first and then we create governments, working together, to protect those rights as best we can. Thus we may create, alter, or dissolve some government, as is deemed necessary, the better to fulfill the role of governance; the better to protect our individual rights.

Thus the source of "sovereignty" must be the individual. The individual is sovereign, and possesses the power of self-defense--along with everything that entails (including everything that the military, or the police, or the legislature, or the court might do)--and then delegates that power to some third party, which is the government. If these powers do not exist in the individual man, if a man cannot do these things as a matter of right, then how could any group come to possess them? Rights do not emerge in the aggregate; and fifty men do not have any more right than the solitary individual.

Okay.

Now as I say, I find this to be consonant with the rest of Objectivism, as I understand it. Government must serve the needs of the individual, otherwise why (in the name of rational self-interest) should any individual support it? I may judge it as being in my interest to recognize the authority of some third party, and thus consent to it, but if I do not judge it so, then why would I grant it my consent? Why would I proclaim that it has the authority to work against my life? Because it says that it has this authority? Because others believe it to be true? Because it was established before I was born? Because they outnumber me? Because they have guns?

What I guess I'm coming to is that, if "consent" is to have any meaning, then it must be given and it must be given voluntarily, and it must be revocable; I should be able to withdraw this consent, reclaiming my sovereignty and individual authority, which I can then bestow onto some other form of government, should I choose, in the interest of my own life. This perhaps mirrors Rand's idea that government should be financed voluntarily. What is a government, and what good is its "authority," if I may elect to give it the means to exist, or withhold the same? And if I am to fund anyone to help me in protecting my own rights, then why could I not withdraw my funding from group A in order to fund group B, should I judge that group B will better serve my needs? In point of fact, why could I not strike out on my own and form my own government?

Taking all of this together as best as I can at present, I don't yet understand why a British citizen living in Spain must bow to the authority of the Spanish government (which in reality means: some group of Spaniards who have guns and who say that they somehow have authority over him; why should they be believed?). Insofar as he is "the governed," if he does not consent to delegate his right of self-defense to the so-called Spanish government--if he, let us say, chooses to be represented in this manner by the British government, and if they agree to represent his interests--then I do not understand why this wouldn't fulfill all that is required by governance, generally. Therefore I do not understand why it is necessary to conceive of government in terms of "territory."

If the answer is that to approach governance in terms of "territory" is convenient, well, that might be the case; and thus our British citizen might be persuaded to heed it, if the Spanish government is sufficiently rights-respecting (or close enough to whatever he would gain by appealing to the British government), in the name of his own self-interest. But if it is not... if it is Fascist Spain, or if he concludes that he would be treated better by the British government (or if he is John Galt and would prefer his Gulch), then I see no call to demand that he participate in his own destruction by surrendering to the idea that the Spanish government (again: some group of Spaniards with guns) has the right to dictate terms. No individual, and no group of individuals, has the right to violate the rights of any other, not across supposed national borders and not within them.

As for the charge that this line of thinking would create pandemonium if enacted... well, I'm not sure that's true. These are the sorts of arguments I find, time and again, contra all manner of pro-liberty proposals, where I don't know the specifics of some potential future, but I believe that acting according to principles (and specifically: respecting individual rights) is yet "for the best." If we eliminate social security, would the elderly all starve to death en masse? I don't believe so, yet I cannot guarantee that some individuals might not suffer. If we do away with welfare, would there be rioting? If we do not tax to support some great endeavor, would we have them at all? Would there be space exploration, or highways, or so forth? How would they be organized? I cannot claim to know these things with precision. So would some other organization of government (which yet conforms to the purpose of governance, and the principles discussed) lead to greater chaos by some given metric? I don't know. Yet I believe that if the proper principles are adhered to, the best outcomes are likely to manifest, and especially long-term.

That said, if I were a betting man, I do not believe that this sort of chaos--with folks clashing in the streets, panicked, pillaging one another, running around aflame, and etc.--is likely, for the same reason why I wouldn't expect the elderly to be left to die in the streets without coercive wealth redistribution. Indeed, we already have "competing governments" in the world (often with competing claims), so the existence of things like extradition policies leads me to believe that people would yet work out ways of coordinating their interests, in reason.

Well, those are my thoughts, such as they are. But as I say, they are not yet "baked"; I'm not yet satisfied that I know what I'm talking about, and I apologize for any lack of coherence, or poor reasoning, accordingly.

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2 hours ago, DonAthos said:

...

Thus the source of "sovereignty" must be the individual. The individual is sovereign, and possesses the power of self-defense--along with everything that entails (including everything that the military, or the police, or the legislature, or the court might do)--and then delegates that power to some third party, which is the government. If these powers do not exist in the individual man, if a man cannot do these things as a matter of right, then how could any group come to possess them? Rights do not emerge in the aggregate; and fifty men do not have any more right than the solitary individual...

We are copacetic on this point :thumbsup:

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9 hours ago, DonAthos said:

I have asked you as to the source of authority (of the police officer; of the Constitution writer; of government), though I still do not yet know your mind on the subject.

I am glad I asked you about your own thought on the subject of the source of authority of a police officer, because I now understand your question. I realized only now that your question became, in the next to last of your comments, about the source of authority of the Constitution itself. I followed it back from the police officer and his bosses, but I stopped at the Constitutions and laws.

The next higher step is the consent of the people – I fully agree.

As to your next question - "why a British citizen living in Spain must bow to the authority of the Spanish government", I think it is helpful to start by first analyzing how does a British citizen consent to the authority of the British government. (I will assume that UK's is a proper, that is an essentially rights-respecting, government.) Consenting to the authority of a government means accepting to respect the country's laws.

In my view, he does consents to the authority of the British government implicitly, by the simple fact of accepting to live on the UK territory. In particular, he is thus accepting that, in order to change the political régime, he will do it by peaceful, lawful means only.

In fact, this applies also to non-citizens choosing to live in the UK, as well as to UK citizens living in another rights-respecting country, Spain for example.

Thus, by living in a rights-respecting country, or by entering it, one implicitly consents to respect its laws. If the county is not rights-respecting, one has no moral obligation to respect its laws, but one assumes the risks of not doing so, and one assumes them alone.

Therefore, the short answer to the question "why a British citizen living in Spain must bow to the authority of the Spanish government" is: "because he chose to cross the border into Spain".

The answer is valid for any person entering any rights-respecting country.

The slightly longer answer is that, as a person with the right ethics (and politics), the British realizes that the Spanish government is essentially a rights-respecting one, so that its authority is legitimate and its laws have to be respected.

Edited by AlexL
Added the last paragraph; edited the last paragraph
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14 hours ago, AlexL said:

I am glad I asked you about your own thought on the subject of the source of authority of a police officer, because I now understand your question. I realized only now that your question became, in the next to last of your comments, about the source of authority of the Constitution itself. I followed it back from the police officer and his bosses, but I stopped at the Constitutions and laws.

The next higher step is the consent of the people – I fully agree.

I believe that in conversations such as these that it is often very helpful to identify "common ground." So though I'm not yet satisfied that we yet have complete agreement on the underlying issues, I account this progress, and I thank you for your assistance.

I guess that the next matter is to try to delve a little more into this idea of "consent." Because the consent that you appear to propose... does not seem to map fully onto what I believe "consent" to be. You appear to claim that living in a country*, for instance, is to give consent to the people who claim power in that country, to agree that they may rightly do whatever it is that they do. I disagree.

It also appears that you therefore allow for no mechanism to "withdraw consent," without apparently leaving whatever is claimed as "territory" altogether. That doesn't seem right to me either.

I recognize that you've prominently employed the term "rights-respecting," so maybe that needs to be explored first. May I ask? When you discuss "rights-respecting" governments, are you restricting your use to some ideal government you wish to work towards in some distant future? Or do you mean it to refer to any existing government (e.g. the Spanish, UK, Swiss, American, etc.)? Because I believe it to be the case that no actual government, past or present, is rights-respecting. Not fully and not essentially, but only, I would argue, "comparatively." Yet I do not agree that any government (which really means: any other person or group of people) may violate my rights because it proposes to violate them "only a little," or "less than others might." I do not consent to this; do you?

_______________________

* Perhaps we ought recognize that to refer to some "country," while too convenient to avoid, does entail a bit of question-begging when it comes to the issue of some government's supposed "territory."

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16 hours ago, AlexL said:

...

Thus, by living in a rights-respecting country, or by entering it, one implicitly consents to respect its laws. If the county is not rights-respecting, one has no moral obligation to respect its laws, but one assumes the risks of not doing so, and one assumes them alone...

 

I think of abilities as powers and rights as recognition.  For example, a right doesn’t create an ability to own property, it simply recognizes and allows for a natural consequence of being human.  So when you speak of duties and obligations, I have to bear in mind that my first duty and obligation is to myself to behave according to my nature as a human being.

When in Rome I ought to observe Roman custom and law, but my primary duty and obligation remains invested in myself.  How I choose to interact with others is simply part of that consideration.  Ayn Rand observes correctly that one ought to respect the rights of others if respect from others is desired.  So yes, when in Rome I ought to behave as the Romans do because I am their guest and they deserve some consideration for putting up with me; as do the proprietors of this forum

But sovereignty emanates from myself as a rights-respecting individual who chooses to abide the law of the land; not the other way around.

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Ayn Rand asserted that " The right of “the self-determination of nations” applies only to free societies or to societies seeking to establish freedom; it does not apply to dictatorships. " (http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/self-determination_of_nations.html)

This suggests Rand would agree that a society of Objectivists would have the right of self-determination. I wonder if she wrote more about this, if anyone knows and can share some sources it would be much appreciated, but if not I will research it myself.

Snerd - you have the Objectivist research software; does it have anything on the matter?

 

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6 minutes ago, Jon Southall said:

Ayn Rand asserted that " The right of “the self-determination of nations” applies only to free societies or to societies seeking to establish freedom; it does not apply to dictatorships. " (http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/self-determination_of_nations.html)

This suggests Rand would agree that a society of Objectivists would have the right of self-determination.

A "society of Objectivists" (as in a society that excludes non-Objectivists), wouldn't be a free society. So no.

By the way, have you had time to think about an example of a capitalist government (as described by Rand) violating individual rights?

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Nicky, 

I didn't see the reason why you asked me that in the first place. Why do you think I need to give an example of that? I would like to see a capitalist government (as described by Rand) come into existence because it does not violate individual rights.

Whilst its an interesting take on the exclusivity of an Objectivist society preventing it from being free, I would challenge you on the basis that there is nothing about a society of Objectivists that would preclude it from dealing with people living within other societies, therefore for all practical purposes it would be free. I expect you will disagree with this; feel free to show me why you think I am mistaken.

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2 hours ago, Jon Southall said:

Nicky, 

I didn't see the reason why you asked me that in the first place. Why do you think I need to give an example of that? I would like to see a capitalist government (as described by Rand) come into existence because it does not violate individual rights.

You said the exact opposite in the post I quoted.

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On 11/23/2015 at 7:03 PM, Jon Southall said:

Secondly, observing that there are no governments in the world that meet the above standard, do you think it is possible to introduce such a form of government?

Such a form of Government depends on the acceptance of Objectivism, or atleast some amount of rationality by citizens. And since it is only in individuals' hands to decide whether they will be rational or not, and if yes, then will they be in a sufficient number to bring about such a change, is a question which hence cannot be predicted just like Ayn Rand said she would not venture to predict if Objectivism will be a widely followed philosophy on earth one day or not

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5 hours ago, Jon Southall said:

Nicky, show me where I wrote a capitalist government following Rand would violate rights?

Seriously? You forgot that you asked me about the basis for a government claiming sovereignty over a territory, and when I answered individual rights, you responded that that's contradictory?

Or are you not aware that the government described by Rand would in fact have sovereignty over a territory?

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Nicky,

What I actually wrote was this:

" On the one hand you claim that the basis of national claim to jurisdiction is individual rights. That is a premise that I think the three of us are all in agreement with."

The contradiction I pointed out was yours; your claim that pragmatics trumps rights.

The basis of jurisdiction is rights, but when you make it about territory I believe you run into some problem areas. Some posters claim it is not who owns the property that makes a difference when it comes to territory, but then who has the right to call that territory their own? Or what community does? 

Also when it concerns wilderness, Ayn Rand liked the homesteading principle which requires that the government acts as custodian over some area of wilderness - custodianship based on what? 

It seems problematic integrating a rights based approach with a territorial approach. If you can shed some light on it, and would like to then be my guest.

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On 12/21/2015 at 3:17 PM, DonAthos said:

You appear to claim that living in a country*, for instance, is to give consent to the people who claim power in that country, to agree that they may rightly do whatever it is that they do. I disagree.

Me too, I disagree ;) because this is not what I clamed; you did not pay attention to my wording.

First, I clearly specified that entering a non-rights-respecting country, does not mean giving any kind of consent or endorsement: "If the county is not rights-respecting, one has no moral obligation to respect its laws…". Second: the consent (whether granted or denied) I was referring to was not for people who claim power in that country, nor an endorsement for whatever it is that they do; the consent was for respecting the law of the land as a consequence of recognizing the essentially rights-respecting spirit of the laws and an at least acceptable degree of government's respect for the law.

On 12/21/2015 at 3:17 PM, DonAthos said:

When you discuss "rights-respecting" governments, are you restricting your use to some ideal government you wish to work towards in some distant future? Or do you mean it to refer to any existing government (e.g. the Spanish, UK, Swiss, American, etc.)?

As I specified several times in my comments (twice in my previous comment only), I refer to "essentially rights-respecting" governments.

On 12/21/2015 at 3:17 PM, DonAthos said:

Yet I do not agree that any government (which really means: any other person or group of people) may violate my rights because it proposes to violate them "only a little,"...

Again, as I already wrote, the implicit consent to respect the laws (of an essentially rights-respecting régime) implies the consent to attempt to change them by peaceful means only, by those procedures provided in the laws. 

On the subject of the forms of withdrawal of consent I will say only this:

- the attempt to change the laws by peaceful means is not a form of such a withdrawal

- when the country evolves into a tyranny, the withdrawal of consent may be violent.

On 12/21/2015 at 4:18 PM, Devil's Advocate said:

when you speak of duties and obligations, I have to bear in mind that my first duty and obligation is to myself...

To repeat: I was not speaking of moral duties, but of duties and obligations one assumes when taking a job – of professional obligations

On 12/21/2015 at 4:18 PM, Devil's Advocate said:

sovereignty emanates from myself as a rights-respecting individual who chooses to abide the law of the land; not the other way around.

Are you talking about the personal sovereignty, the person's independency and self-ownership? In this case I am not sure I've clamed the contrary, because I was always speaking about government's sovereignty/jurisdiction over a territory. I do not deny, however, that the sovereignty/jurisdiction of a proper government is related to the personal self-ownership.

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On 12/17/2015 at 0:02 AM, Jon Southall said:

Israel. Jewish people purchased land and established a new state after ww2. Is the jurisdiction of Israel legitimate or not?

Yes, it is legitimate. The legitimacy of a régime and of its jurisdiction in the country comes from the fact of (essentially) respecting the individual rights of its citizens. It has nothing to do with the fact of purchasing land.

Regarding Israel's legitimacy, I wrote many years ago some comments on this forum, including about land purchase – see here and here.

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AlexL,

In responding I firstly admit I have not read your links, so apologies if they address this.

Let's take as our starting point two claims you seem to be making. 1) the legitimacy of a regime comes from respecting the individual rights of its citizens and 2) the jurisdiction of the regime territorially does not stem from what its citizens own.

Have I got this starting point right?

In this case, I would understand your claim to be that Israel would be legitimate not because the territory of Israel belongs to Israelis but because the government respects the rights of its Israeli citizens.

At some point in the past, the land purchased was in a territory under a different government than the emergent Israeli state. Is your view that the justification for Israeli land owners establishing their own territory governed by its own state that the prior regime was failing to protect and respect the rights of those who later establised the Israeli state?

If Objectivist land owners in America felt that their rights were being abused in various ways, for example by tax and regulations, and decided to establish a government that would not violate their rights, then given what they would create would be a better regime for protecting and respecting the rights of self-designated Objectivists, would this justify the creation of an Objectivist state separate from the US in your view?

What would be different about this scenario compared to Israel?

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59 minutes ago, AlexL said:

Me too, I disagree ;) because this is not what I clamed...

LOL, that's fair enough, only...

59 minutes ago, AlexL said:

...you did not pay attention to my wording.

I don't think that's true. (Please believe me that, whatever our disagreements or miscommunications, I take this seriously, and I pay strict attention to what you write.)

59 minutes ago, AlexL said:

First, I clearly specified that entering a non-rights-respecting country, does not mean giving any kind of consent or endorsement: "If the county is not rights-respecting, one has no moral obligation to respect its laws…"

Again, fair enough. We're agreed on this point.

59 minutes ago, AlexL said:

Second: the consent (whether granted or denied) I was referring to was not for people who claim power in that country, nor an endorsement for whatever it is that they do; the consent was for respecting the law of the land as a consequence of recognizing the essentially rights-respecting spirit of the laws and an at least acceptable degree of government's respect for the law.

Yet the "law of the land" must be interpreted and carried out by people. Your proposed robots notwithstanding, the law does not enforce itself. I think that consenting to a government is not alone with respect to laws in the abstract, but also the actual administration and execution of governance.

This is to say, an actual government is more than merely the sum of its laws.

But let me say more: the "laws" and the governance that I'm prepared to respect and consent to are the same everywhere. I will not initiate the use of force, but I reserve the right to defend myself against force. If I live in a place where society is such that they assist me in this endeavor, so much the better (and I will lend my own support to such a society accordingly); if I find myself in a society where others work against me in this, not only do I not consent to their activity, but I will work against their designs, so far as it is within my means and deemed for my benefit. It does not matter to me who wears a badge on his chest, or what that badge says, I do not consent that my rights may be violated, and I do not consent to any government which would countenance such.

59 minutes ago, AlexL said:

As I specified several times in my comments (twice in my previous comment only), I refer to "essentially rights-respecting" governments.

I know. And I believe that you'll find that language reflected here:

On 12/21/2015 at 6:17 AM, DonAthos said:

...I believe it to be the case that no actual government, past or present, is rights-respecting. Not fully and not essentially, but only, I would argue, "comparatively."

But let me be more specific. The government of the United States (which I cite primarily due to my own familiarity, but I expect that most others would serve my purpose equally) does not "essentially" respect rights. It funds (nearly) its every activity through coercive taxation, which is to say, theft. How can an entity which supports itself through theft (and only squabbles over "how much" to steal) be justly described as "essentially rights-respecting"? (And this is not to speak of the myriad of issues such as the draft, eminent domain, protectionist trade policies, the drug war, laws against prostitution and gambling, regulations which choke business and the development of medicine and technology and etc., and etc., etc., etc.)

Is the government of the United States comparatively rights-respecting, as against many other governments, past and present? Yes, I believe so. But that's not the same thing. And again:

On 12/21/2015 at 6:17 AM, DonAthos said:

I do not agree that any government (which really means: any other person or group of people) may violate my rights because it proposes to violate them "only a little," or "less than others might." I do not consent to this; do you?

This isn't merely a rhetorical question, and I would love to know your sincere answer. Do you consent that others may violate your rights "a little bit," because you consider them (or the laws which they purportedly serve) to be "essentially rights-respecting"?

59 minutes ago, AlexL said:

Again, as I already wrote, the implicit consent to respect the laws (of an essentially rights-respecting régime) implies the consent to attempt to change them by peaceful means only, by those procedures provided in the laws. 

On the subject of the forms of withdrawal of consent I will say only this:

- the attempt to change the laws by peaceful means is not a form of such a withdrawal

- when the country evolves into a tyranny, the withdrawal of consent may be violent.

All right. Let's continue briefly on "the forms of withdrawal of consent."

Suppose... hmm, suppose that the people of Alaska (however we propose to know "their mind") decided that their regional interests were not being served by the American government in Washington, D.C., and voted to form their own nation (which would pursue oil drilling to a greater extent; let us say, for simplicity, that this is the salient difference).

Would you agree that they had the right to do so? If so, do you think that the government of the United States should allow this to happen peacefully? Do you think it would allow such a thing to happen, in reality (being "essentially rights-respecting")? Would an Objectivist state/proper government (whatever this means to you) allow it to happen peacefully?

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17 hours ago, Jon Southall said:

 

The basis of jurisdiction is rights, but when you make it about territory I believe you run into some problem areas.

I didn't make it about territory. That is the official Objectivist position. I just let you know about it.

And I don't care what you call the issue you have with it. You can call it a contradiction, you can be vague and evasive and change it to "problem areas", I don't care. Feel free.

I just want you to give an actual example of what you're talking about. How does a government, as described by Ayn Rand, violate rights, or "run into problem areas"?

Edited by Nicky
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Nicky,

What you wrote was a contradiction. It's a simple fact. You can't have rights as the basis of government and then say rights only count when its practical, without contradicting yourself.

You seem to have trouble reading my posts, or at least remembering what I have written. I support the kind of capitalism Rand was advocating.

The problem is with your stating that the objectivist position on jurisdiction is territorial - then asserting pragmatics trumps rights - can you show me where you have concluded this from, given Rand's arguments on it?

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22 hours ago, Jon Southall said:

I firstly admit I have not read your links, so apologies if they address this.

OMG, you thought I was expecting you to have read 10 years old posts?! What gave you this idea? But I will assume that you read them by nowdefault_smile.png

22 hours ago, Jon Southall said:

Let's take as our starting point two claims you seem to be making. 1) the legitimacy of a regime comes from respecting the individual rights of its citizens and 2) the jurisdiction of the regime territorially does not stem from what its citizens own.

Have I got this starting point right?

Yes, this is quite right.

22 hours ago, Jon Southall said:

In this case, I would understand your claim to be that Israel would be legitimate not because the territory of Israel belongs to Israelis but because the government respects the rights of its Israeli citizens.

This is correct, essentially.

[However, I am not sure what you mean here, and further down, by "Israelis". I'll assume you include all citizens of the State of Israel, of any ethnicity, and even non-citizen residents. They all should have they rights respected. Just to be sure, I will mention that in Israel (as before in British and Ottoman Palestine) land is owned by Jews, by Arabs, Christians and what not, not all of them being necessarily Israeli citizens – or even residents. Also, big chunks of land are owned by communes and by the state. Like everywhere, as you can see.]

22 hours ago, Jon Southall said:

At some point in the past, the land purchased was in a territory under a different government than the emergent Israeli state. Is your view that the justification for Israeli land owners establishing their own territory governed by its own state that the prior regime was failing to protect and respect the rights of those who later establised the Israeli state?

No, it is absolutely not my view. Because:

  • it was not the Israeli (??) land owners who established the State of Israel,
  • neither was it Israelis or even Jews,
  • Israel was not established according to the pattern you described above – by separating from another state which was failing to protect their rights.

In fact, the State of Israel was established by fiat – by a UN-GA Resolution (181/1947), in which the above factors played no role.

It is not my view that the legitimacy of Israel comes from this or any other UN resolution. According to my - universal - principle, it comes solely from it respecting rights. As soon as it will become a tyranny, Israel will become illegitimate.

22 hours ago, Jon Southall said:

If Objectivist land owners in America felt that their rights were being abused in various ways, for example by tax and regulations, and decided to establish a government that would not violate their rights, then given what they would create would be a better regime for protecting and respecting the rights of self-designated Objectivists, would this justify the creation of an Objectivist state separate from the US in your view?

No, it would not.

Not for the reasons you gave and irrespective of whether they are Objectivists or not, land owners or not. The only circumstance in which I would find the (violent) separation acceptable would be to split from a dictatorship and only in order to establish a rights-respecting government. This is, btw, the same principle as for the legitimacy of overthrowing of a government.


22 hours ago, Jon Southall said:

What would be different about this scenario compared to Israel?

I guess the question is already answered, isn't it?

 

 

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On 12/23/2015 at 2:59 AM, DonAthos said:

The government of the United States ... does not "essentially" respect rights. It funds (nearly) its every activity through coercive taxation, ...  draft, eminent domain, protectionist trade policies, the drug war, laws against prostitution... 

No, the United Statesis indeed an essentially rights respecting country. USA is not a dictatorship, so that there still are peaceful ways to correct the problems you've mentioned: taxation, draft (there is presently no draft in USA!!!), eminent domain, etc. As long as there is an important degree of freedom of expression (press, etc.), of association (political parties), free elections, all of the above are correctable.

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Ayn Rand: A dictatorship is a country … whose government holds total, unlimited power over men. There are four characteristics which brand a country unmistakably as a dictatorship: one-party rule—executions without trial or with a mock trial, for political offenses—the nationalization or expropriation of private property—and censorship.

In such a country there is no peaceful way to perform a change to a rights-respecting country (except very special circumstances where the ruling clique is abandoning power – like in most East-European communist countries in the 90').

On 12/23/2015 at 2:59 AM, DonAthos said:

I do not agree that any government … may violate my rights because it proposes to violate them "only a little," or "less than others might." I do not consent to this; do you? ... This isn't merely a rhetorical question, and I would love to know your sincere answer. Do you consent that others may violate your rights "a little bit," because you consider them (or the laws which they purportedly serve) to be "essentially rights-respecting"?

Yes, I do consent to a government which is not a dictatorship and which, therefore, leaves us open the possibility to improve it by peaceful means. If this is the case, the degree of extra freedom above the basics depends on the dominant philosophy of the society – which you are free to try to change. If you are trying to change it by force, you impose on most of the people conceptions which they do not share, and this is a totalitarian habit. But you agreed yourself: "I will not initiate the use of force, but I reserve the right to defend myself against force. … as far as it is within my means and deemed for my benefit". This is exactly what I mean "giving consent" – agreeing to remain within the system. Consent cannot mean to agree with each governmental action and with each official – such a consent is simply impossible and is, therefore, an anti-concept.

On 12/23/2015 at 2:59 AM, DonAthos said:

Suppose... hmm, suppose that the people of Alaska ... decided that their regional interests were not being served by the American government in Washington, D.C., and voted to form their own nation (which would pursue oil drilling to a greater extent; let us say, for simplicity, that this is the salient difference). Would you agree that they had the right to do so?

Only if the Constitution foresees such a procedure, which I guess is not the case. So that the answer is: no. But… there are peaceful ways to obtain oil drilling to a greater extent; there are also peaceful ways of changing the Constitution...

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2 hours ago, AlexL said:

No, the United Statesis indeed an essentially rights respecting country.

I don't know what to say to this, except that I continue to disagree. I don't believe that a country which routinely violates the rights of its citizens, and which has these violations enshrined in laws on every level, and which funds these violations through further violation, can sensibly be described as "essentially rights-respecting." This strikes me as a misuse of the term "essentially," at the very least.

But if you continue to insist that the US government is "essentially rights-respecting," then rather than allow this to become an impasse to our conversation, I'll say "so be it; but then being 'essentially rights-respecting' is meaningless, because a government can be 'essentially rights-respecting' in your view yet violate its citizens' rights continuously, widely, and flagrantly."

I do not consent to a government which violates its citizens' rights continuously, widely, and flagrantly, however else you might wish to characterize it.

2 hours ago, AlexL said:

USA is not a dictatorship...

I did not say that it was a dictatorship.

2 hours ago, AlexL said:

...so that there still are peaceful ways to correct the problems you've mentioned: taxation, draft (there is presently no draft in USA!!!)...

From Wikipedia:

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Conscription in the United States, commonly known as the draft, has been employed by the federal government on three occasions. The third incarnation of the draft came into being in 1940 through the Selective Training and Service Act. It was the country's first peacetime draft. From 1940 until 1973, during both peacetime and periods of conflict, men were drafted to fill vacancies in the armed forces which could not be filled through voluntary means. The draft was ended when the United States military moved to an all-volunteer military force. However, the Selective Service System remains in place as a contingency plan; men between the ages of 18 and 25 are required to register so that a draft can be readily resumed if needed.

Perhaps one (or both) of us is splitting hairs, but being as I personally was required by law to register for the Selective Service ("as a contingency plan"), I feel comfortable saying that the United States still has a draft requirement, even if there is no active conscription.

2 hours ago, AlexL said:

...eminent domain, etc. As long as there is an important degree of freedom of expression (press, etc.), of association (political parties), free elections, all of the above are correctable.

Perhaps they are correctable (though as the expression has it, "I would not hold my breath"). In the meantime, the government routinely initiates the use of force against its citizenry, and I do not consent to that.

2 hours ago, AlexL said:

In [a dictatorship as defined by Ayn Rand] there is no peaceful way to perform a change to a rights-respecting country (except very special circumstances where the ruling clique is abandoning power – like in most East-European communist countries in the 90').

Could there exist finer gradations between "dictatorship" and "essentially rights-respecting"?

2 hours ago, AlexL said:

Yes, I do consent to a government which is not a dictatorship and which, therefore, leaves us open the possibility to improve it by peaceful means.

I asked whether you consented to having your rights violated "a little bit."* Since you've responded in the affirmative, then I take it that you do consent to having your rights violated... perhaps in the service of what you believe to be some "greater good," I don't honestly know.

But here, again, we must part company, and this time I see no potential way to bridge this gap other than for one or the other of us to cross sides completely.

I would describe the attitude you're expressing here as "the sanction of the victim." You're saying that others will violate your rights, and that you give your consent for them to do this; you agree that what they do, they have the right to do.

If this is not what you're saying, I heartily invite your clarification/correction.

__________________________________________

*For context, here is the question as it was phrased:

Do you consent that others may violate your rights "a little bit," because you consider them (or the laws which they purportedly serve) to be "essentially rights-respecting"?

I understand that you've qualified your answer, but the bolded part remains, in my estimation, the important part.

2 hours ago, AlexL said:

If this is the case, the degree of extra freedom above the basics depends on the dominant philosophy of the society – which you are free to try to change. If you are trying to change it by force, you impose on most of the people conceptions which they do not share, and this is a totalitarian habit.

"Extra freedom above the basics"? I don't think I look upon things like being opposed to eminent domain, or coercive redistribution of wealth, or suffocating regulation, as a search for "extra freedom." And if we have people in prison for decades, for things which ought not be crimes at all, then I cannot agree that we have yet achieved "the basics."

On the subject of using force to create a society based upon liberty (i.e. where that force is used only in retaliation against those who initiate it, to defend the innocent in the name of justice), I'll only say that I think it's... amusing to see this described as "a totalitarian habit." ;)

2 hours ago, AlexL said:

But you agreed yourself: "I will not initiate the use of force, but I reserve the right to defend myself against force. … as far as it is within my means and deemed for my benefit". This is exactly what I mean "giving consent" – agreeing to remain within the system.

My choices are not directed in order to "remain within the system"; I don't give a damn about the system (and it does not give a damn about me, I'm sure), but certainly I might play along, insofar as it is within my interest.

I do not agree that this is "giving consent" at all. Or it is the kind of "consent" a POW might employ, in satisfying his captor's demands while he searches for a suitable escape tunnel. In this case, however, with the world being what it is, the actual escape I search for is something like "a better future."

2 hours ago, AlexL said:

Consent cannot mean to agree with each governmental action and with each official – such a consent is simply impossible and is, therefore, an anti-concept.

No, nor is that what "consent" means in my usage. To clarify my usage, I could envision consenting to a government, as such, which then might be subject to the occasional misuse of authority, or corrupt official, or honest mistake, or etc. These would be rightly considered aberrations, and would not speak to the essential character of the government in question (which would truly be "essentially rights-respecting"), and would not necessarily shake my consent/my affirmation that it is right for this government to exercise the power that they claim, and furthermore, that they do it in my name.

But in the case of the United States government, that's not what we're talking about at all.

If you live in the United States, your rights will be violated, by the Government, as a matter of routine and as a matter of policy. We cannot avoid but recognize these facts (except through great evasion), and to consent to the government of the United States must certainly mean to consent to what they routinely do, the means they routinely employ, and etc. It will not do merely to point to the Constitution and say, "well, they mean well." (Or that they did, once upon a time, if that is even true.) To consent to this sort of government is to agree that it is acceptable for some to initiate the use of force against others, because that is precisely what this government does, and all the time. To consent to this is moral complicity.

2 hours ago, AlexL said:

Only if the Constitution foresees such a procedure, which I guess is not the case. So that the answer is: no. But… there are peaceful ways to obtain oil drilling to a greater extent; there are also peaceful ways of changing the Constitution...

Well, then, I continue to not understand what you mean by "consent of the governed," if the people of Alaska would have no means to set up their own government...

But forget the US Constitution for a moment and envision your ideal society. Suppose that it overlaps, geographically, with the present United States, and then ask yourself whether Alaska ought have the right to withdraw from the larger government in order to set up its own state.

What say you? Do they have the right to govern themselves--withdrawing their consent, formally, from this larger group in order to create a smaller government--or do they not?

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On 12/24/2015 at 2:01 AM, Jon Southall said:

Nicky,

What you wrote was a contradiction. It's a simple fact. You can't have rights as the basis of government and then say rights only count when its practical, without contradicting yourself.

You seem to have trouble reading my posts, or at least remembering what I have written. I support the kind of capitalism Rand was advocating.

The problem is with your stating that the objectivist position on jurisdiction is territorial - then asserting pragmatics trumps rights - can you show me where you have concluded this from, given Rand's arguments on it?

The kind of capitalism Rand was advocating is territorial. I didn't "conclude" it from anywhere, it's a well known fact. I read it in a book she authored.

 

On 12/24/2015 at 2:01 AM, Jon Southall said:

Nicky,

What you wrote was a contradiction. It's a simple fact. You can't have rights as the basis of government and then say rights only count when its practical, without contradicting yourself.

You keep saying that. And then when I ask you to give an example of how the territorial government Rand describes in her non-fiction violates rights, you claim you never said it does. And then, two posts later, you make the claim again, and then I ask for an example again, and then you deny you said it again.

And over and over and...oh wait, no, I believe this is where this cycle ends.

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